Date of Degree
Theatre and Performance Studies
During the first decade of the twentieth century, when the population of New York City was growing by leaps and bounds because of immigration, urbanization, and industrialization, a short-lived theatre movement known as the "ten-twenty-thirty," or, more familiarly, the "ten, twent', thirt," was born. Originally named for the low prices of the tickets, the term came to encompass various types of touring companies that travelled throughout the country, resident stock companies, and hundreds of plays, mostly melodramas, written expressly for this movement. Created by enterprising producers, managers, and playwrights, the ten, twent', thirt' catered to the needs of the working-class public who demanded cheap and thrilling entertainment, in the years immediately preceding the explosion of film.
Although scholars have noted the achievements of males in this theatre, they have, for the most part, ignored the important contributions of women. By focusing on actresses, female theatre managers, female playwright/producers and writers of novelizations, this study will attempt to reestablish the role played by women in the ten-twenty-thirty theatre. Beginning with an examination of the strategies used by theatre managers to increase the number of women in the audience, I will argue that these women exerted an influence on the plays produced, the nature of the female characters in them, and the actresses selected to interpret them. Some of the most successful actresses went on to manage theatres, and a few of them to write, produce, and star in their own plays, which contained stronger, more active roles for women.
Waldinger, Barbara Meredith, "The Women of the Ten, Twent', Thirt': Popular Melodrama Theatre in Turn-of-the-Century New York" (1999). CUNY Academic Works.